How To Spring Clean Your Finances And Save Yourself Money

Regular readers will know that I’m a huge fan of Spring cleaning. Whether it’s my home, my routine or my finances they all get a good sorting out this time of year. I can’t stress how important it is to check your finances. Not only will it help you spot any mistakes that have been made it can also save you lots of money.

It is too easy to ignore or miss those small regular outgoing payments but they soon add up and could be costing you a lot. I thought I would share my best tips to Spring clean your finances and hopefully save you some money in the process.

The Fine Toothcomb

Set a few hours aside and go through your bank statements for at least the last 6 months. If you have paper statements take a highlighter and cross through anything you don’t recognise. If like me you do all your banking online just keep a notebook next to you and jot down anything unusual.

Once you have done that it’s time to investigate. Ask yourself if you are still signed up to a subscription that you meant to cancel. Also check for duplicate payments, I’ve had this happen before where a supermarket took the same amount twice by accident.

If you find any of these problems action them straight away, leaving it any longer could mean you forget again. It might be a good idea to set a reminder on your calendar so you never forgot those cancellation or renewal dates.

Are You Owed ?

There’s nothing worse than the thought of money that’s rightfully yours sitting in someone else’s account accruing interest.

If you have switched energy supplier in the last six years you could have credit sitting in your old account. A quick phone call to your old supplier will soon tell you if you are owed anything.

Could you be owed PPI ? If you have ever had a loan, car finance, credit card or any other credit product you might be owed money. PPI (payment protection insurance) was widely mis-sold leaving people paying, sometimes unknown for worthless cover. It’s definitely worth checking before the deadline which has been set at August 29th 2019.

Paying Too Much ?

My favourite part of the financial Spring clean is seeing if I can get a better deal for the services and products I already have. If you have any contracts that are coming to an end, phone up and haggle. I haven’t paid full price for subscription TV in years.

Don’t auto-renew anything, always search the market for a better deal. Whether it’s car insurance or mobile phone tariffs, never settle until you’ve left no stone unturned.

Also if you have a credit card check if you are eligible for a 0% balance transfer. We were able to pay our debt down more quickly without the interest to pay on top.

And Finally 

Once you’ve spring cleaned your finances and saved yourself lots of money it’s time to sit back with a brew and congratulate yourself on a job well done. I like to do a financial housekeeping session once a month. But a good clean out twice a year will be just as effective.

*This is a collaborative post*

 

How To Take The Stress Out Of Christmas Shopping

There’s no escaping the fact that Christmas shopping season is fast approaching or if you are super organised like me it’s already begun.

Christmas can be such an expensive time for everyone, even more so if you are trying to work to a tight budget.

I thought I would share with you some ways you can take the stress out of Christmas shopping.

Vouchers, Discounts & Sales

Never buy any of those wish list gifts until you have checked online to see if there is a sale, discount or voucher available for the items you want to buy.

Competition for sales around the festive season has become fierce in recent years with the introduction of ‘Black Friday’ and star buy sales so make sure you take full advantage of the offers.

Be sure to look at websites like My Voucher Codes where you can find a ton of the latest voucher codes and in-store offers from over 8,000 retailers.hang-tags-234566_1280Online Shopping

With the amount of stores that now offer online shopping there’s no need to even step foot out of the comfort of your house.

I now do about 70% of my Christmas shopping online, not having to brave the crowds or fight the queues has done wonders for my stress levels and of course my bank balance.

Most retailers now offer a free click and collect service which means you are also saving money on postage fees, another huge bonus is that it helps you to focus and buy only what you need without all those till point distractions that cause impulse purchases.

I do the majority of my shopping for the children presents from Amazon as the prices are really competitive and they have a huge range of the latest toys and games.gift-595871_1920Gift Vouchers

The toughest part of Christmas shopping for me is deciding what to actually buy for people, there’s always the worry of buying a duplicate or even worse something they don’t like at all.

If I’m really stuck for ideas I opt for buying them a gift voucher so they can choose something for themselves.

If you would rather buy some an experience or night out, most restaurants and cinema chains offer gift vouchers, I’m sure the recipient would be delighted with an actual experience rather than a physical gift.

Have a look at the Voucher Madness post over on Planner Wealth for lots more ideas about vouchers, there’s also a great easy money saving tips video for you to watch.coupon-472481_1920Start Early 

The most valuable tip I can give you and one I have always followed is to start your Christmas shopping early.

I have saved so much much money by being prepared, grabbing sales and bargains all the way through the year.

Another great advantage of doing it this way is that you can spread the cost and avoid facing a huge expense all at once.

Being prepared means that you also avoid last minute panic buying and missing delivery deadlines, leaving no choice but to pay over the odds and venturing out in what is truly silly season.coffee-1246511_1280I hope these tips have given you some ideas of how to take the stress out of Christmas shopping, if you have any tips of your own leave me a comment I love hearing from you.

angela

*This is a collaborative post*

RachelSwirl

 

 

Five Frugal Things For September

Can you believe we are in the last week of September already ? no, me either but I am happy to say that we have had a fairly productive, frugal and thrifty time this month. Here are our five frugal things for this month.

adventures-in-websterlanf-11. Free books, I can often be found perusing the pages of Freegle and Freecycle on the look out for things we can make use of, things that previous owners have fallen out of love with. I took a chance on asking for what was described as a pile of pre-school books and i’m so glad I did as it turned out to be a huge box of books suitable for both the children with titles that were on my ‘to-buy’ list all in fantastic condition. There was also a little surprise of a Leap Frog write and learn toy which Daisy hasn’t put down. Daisy also brought home a free book from school from BookTrust which was nice.

img_1952 img_19512. Less waste, I really wanted to focus on waste and as Zero Waste Week falls in September I thought it was the perfect time to make a conscious decision to reduce our household waste. I’ve been cooking exactly the right portion sizes, buying the exact amount of fresh produce we need for a week and recycling as much as we possibly can. I used to be guilty of putting gallons of milk on mine and the children’s cereals then tipping it away once the cereal had been eaten, I’ve been using a lot less and it’s saved us money as we don’t need to buy milk as often as we were.

3. Budgeting, we had a lot of events and celebrations to attend this month which could have gotten quite expensive but we sat down at the beginning of September and wrote a budget which I’m delighted to say we have stuck to, sometimes we have even come in under budget which is fantastic.

4. Online Earning, although I’ve not been hammering the surveys as much as I would have liked I still earned a nice little pile of money and vouchers,  which I’ve put towards Birthday and Christmas presents meaning that we don’t have to dip into FrugalMrW’s wages which is always a bonus.

IMG_0887[1]5. Selling Stuff, after having a good old declutter we were left with a few things to sell, we donate most of our unwanted’s to a local charity shop who use the profits to support people back into work which I think is awesome. We sold a couple of things on Facebook selling pages and used the money towards a day out, I’m going to use Gumtree for the things that are yet to sell.

Have you done anything frugal this month ? leave me a comment I love hearing from you. I will be back in October to tell you what frugal things we have been up to.

Angela xx

 

Family, Frugal & Home Goals For September 2016

August was such a busy month we packed in lots of fun but also met lots of our goals too which makes me very happy. The Summer bucket list isn’t quite complete but we did manage to tick most of it off and we will try and complete the rest of it in the first few weeks of September before the weather turns colder.

We met lots of our frugal goals and got lots of little jobs done around the house, my focus for this month is going to be decluttering, deep cleaning and organising.

Family,Frugal & Home Goals

Family

  • Celebrate our grandsons 2nd birthday.
  • Celebrate our nieces 1st birthday.
  • Complete our bucket list.
  • Celebrate Daisy’s first day of big school.
  • Lose 4 pounds (personal goal)

Frugal

  • Menu plan & stick to a list.
  • Line dry as much as possible.
  • Finish Christmas present shopping on a budget.
  • Pay £50 extra to the credit card debt.
  • Look for new earning opportunities online.

Home

  • Deep clean oven & hob.
  • Declutter every room.
  • Paint bathroom radiator.
  • Tidy garden & put Summer toys in storage.
  • Declutter and organise paperwork.

September is a busy month with lots of celebrations and a few exciting events to attend, I’m also having my haircut (within budget of course) which is such a treat.

What are your goals for September ? leave me a comment below I love hearing from you.

Angela xx

 

Five Frugal Things For August

Regular readers will have noticed that I have somewhat diversified my blog over this past year,I experimented with with writing solely about being frugal and money saving but I missed sharing posts about our family life and although it is suggested I didn’t want to niche my blog so I decided that refocusing as a family lifestyle blog would cover all of the topics I wanted to talk about and give me the freedom to write about whatever took my fancy.

As I’m frugal at heart I still want to share with you some of the things we do or have done as a family to help us save and make money and I thought a monthly post would be perfect.

Five Frugal Things For August

  1. As British Gas customers we get free electricity on a Sunday between 9am and 5pm and we’ve  been making the most of this offer by getting as many wash loads done as well as charging everything right up, I’m not sure how much money exactly we will save but it sure does feel good knowing that I don’t have to worry about energy costs one day a week.

2. We have packed in lots of fun this Summer holidays and it’s almost all been for free, by making use of local parks, the library and a ton of our own crafts and toys we have kept costs right down.

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3. I always buy the children’s clothes throughout the year to spread the cost, I buy early for each season and also shop the sales. I have just started to buy some Autumn and Winter pieces but I’m glad I didn’t buy too much as we were given two free bags of clothes for Jake which contained everything he will need for the next few seasons ahead.

4. For me being frugal comes hand in hand with being prepared so this month I have stocked up the freezers with enough meals to last us until mid October maybe even longer, by doing this it leaves extra money in our weekly budget to cover birthdays and celebrations which we have a ton of towards the second half of the year and any household maintenance during the colder months.

5. I’ve started the process of decluttering and organising, how is this frugal you may ask, well firstly I found some more items that I could sell one of which already sold and I also found things that I thought I needed to buy, it always pays to check what you already have before buying anything.

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We have lots of plans for September and also a few different events to attend so I’m hoping to cut our costs even further to absorb the extra expenses. I will also be working hard to find new earning opportunities so I can add some extra pounds to our family pot.

I hope you enjoyed reading this frugal update, if you have any money saving tips for me then please leave me a comment I love to hear from you.

Angela xx

How I’ve Saved Money By Switching To Vaping by FrugalMrW

Hello it’s FrugalMrW here again and this time I am going to talk about how much money you can save by Vaping.

Over the years I have tried several times to give up smoking and failed, at one point I gave up smoking for 18 months and then one day stress got the better of me and I started again. The trouble was, I enjoyed smoking as much as I was addicted to it, when I had stopped for 18 months I missed smoking every single day and it was a battle. That was until my Brother-In-Law introduced me to vaping and I am glad to say that last November I smoked my last ever cigarette and switched to vaping.

First let me say a few things about vaping that I think are very important, I do not recommend vaping to anyone who doesn’t smoke already but I do believe that it is a safer alternative to smoking in every respect, the reasons for which I will explain a little further on in this post. I do believe that it has the potential to be a very successful method of smoking cessation.

Over recent months there have been several high profile endorsements for vaping as a safe method of smoking cessation such as the recent findings of the Royal College of Physicians stating that while vaping is possibly more harmful that other available types of NRT (Nicotine Replacement Therapy) but that the harm is unlikely to exceed 5% of the risk of smoking actual tobacco.


The Numbers.

The reason I am writing about this is not just that I believe its one of the best ways to move away from tobacco but also that it is SIGNIFICANTLY less expensive than smoking tobacco.

Cigarettes

An average 20/day smoker pays approx £8 for 20 cigarettes, over the course of a year that’s a massive £2920 per year on cigarettes alone!

Hand rolled Cigarettes

I used to smoke a 50g pouch of hand rolling tobacco per week and pay approx £15.50 per pouch plus approx £3 per week on filter tips, rolling papers etc. So an average of £18/week translates into £936 per year!

Vaping

I consider myself to be a heavy vaper, which means that on an average week I can use up to 60ml of e liquid. Depending on the brand of e liquid and the vendor you use, e liquid can cost between £10-15 per 30ml bottle, which if I bought my liquid from a vendor then it would be costing me more than smoking.

This is the reason I mix my own e-liquids. Doing so has brought my costs down to less than £3 per week to vape, bringing my yearly costs down to about £160 which you can see is a massive saving.


Getting set up

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Admittedly getting set up to switch to vaping can seem a little expensive, but it really isn’t in the long run, you are probably looking between £30-60 for your initial set-up including the actual hardware to vape on and your first bottle of e liquid, but once you have those you really are just buying your e liquid each week, and if you make your own E-Liquid like I do that’s where the real savings are made.

Looking at what it costs to smoke real cigarettes per week, the savings made in the first week alone will pay for your initial set-up.

It is very easy to go in to a vape shop and be intimidated by all the different kinds of products on offer but my advice would be to start off small and within a budget you are comfortable with, the savings will begin to accrue within a few weeks and if its something you feel suits you then you can upgrade and grow the way you vape.


Final Word

As I said at the start of this post I DO NOT advocate vaping for anyone who is not already a smoker of tobacco and is looking for a way to move away from it. While the long term effects of vaping are not yet known, my research has shown me that the signs are consistently pointing towards vaping as a MUCH safer alternative to smoking tobacco, and it has helped me to move away from tobacco completely without any of the withdrawal symptoms and I personally feel a whole bunch of health benefits, but most of all FrugalMrsW doesn’t grumble about me smelling bad any more!

FrugalMrW

When Being Frugal Really Pays Off

 

Since the start of this year we I have been trying to be extra frugal when it comes to how much gas and electricity we are using and when I checked our bank account last week I was in for a nice surprise in the form of a refund for being in credit with both accounts, I finally had proof that being frugal really does pay off.

2019

The good news didn’t stop there, as we are always in credit on both accounts our overall monthly payments have been reduced as well, with the cuts we have already made this year to our outgoing expenses this gives us so much more wiggle room to grow our savings and pay down our debt.

Sometimes it’s hard to see an overall result when you are doing very small things frugally everyday, I’ve felt like some of the choices we have made this year about where and how to spend our money have been leading us off the path from our goals but I’ve realised that the small changes I make everyday mean that we can make some mistakes and be a little frivolous every now and again.

Here are the things we have done so far this year that have made a huge difference

  • Only used the central heating when absolutely necessary.
  • Hung washing out to dry at every chance even in Winter.
  • Been a stickler for switching lights and plugs off when not in use.
  • Reduced washing loads by checking if clothes are really dirty.
  • Cancelled Sky TV.
  • Cancelled Netflix.

I know there is so much more we could do but for now I’m happy with the changes we have made, I don’t want to live an extremely frugal life I’m just happy to save my family some money so we can enjoy little treats and days out throughout the year and eventually be totally debt free.

What have you done this year so far to save money ? let me know if you have any hints or tips on living a more frugal lifestyle I love hearing from you.

Angela xx

 

 

Falling Off The Frugal Wagon

Lately I’ve felt like I’ve fallen off the frugal wagon somewhat. Since the beginning of the month I’ve felt a little off my game when it comes to frugality, money saving and money making so I thought I would share with you the reasons why and what I intend to do about it.

The ocean stirsthe heart, inspiresthe imagination& brings eternaljoy to the soul

I think the word ‘frugal’ means different things to different people, for my family it means saving money on the everyday necessities so we can afford for me to stay at home with the children and still have money to spend on the things that are important to us like days out, special occasions and home improvement.

For our family to survive and thrive on just one income means that being frugal is necessary, it’s a life long learning process and sometimes I can be a little hard on myself and feel like a total failure if we wander slightly off the frugal path and I think that’s what’s happened lately.

Here’s a few things that have happened this month that I feel have caused my tumble off the frugal wagon,

  • We have overspent every week on the grocery budget
  • I’ve let coupons and vouchers expire instead of using them
  • We’ve used the credit card to buy a new tumble dryer (ouch)
  • We’ve spent way too much money on junk food
  • We failed to cancel some free trial offers leading to unexpected expenses
  • We haven’t paid much extra money off our credit card debt
  • We’ve passed up opportunities to earn a little extra cash (so unmotivated)
  • I’ve let food go to waste

You might look at the list above and think it’s insignificant or you may even think it’s terrible for someone who writes a blog about living frugally but I think it’s important to be honest and show you that I’m human and that we make mistakes and become unmotivated sometimes.

Writing it all down here helps to hold us accountable, to write our mistakes down in black and white and to make a plan for moving forward.

I’ve made a list of all the areas I feel that we are  failing in and one by one I’m going to address them this week, I’m going back to frugal basics and I’m going to put everything I’ve learned back into action.

I’m going to remind myself that like with all things in life it’s the journey that’s most important and not the destination, we won’t ever give up on our dreams of financial freedom no matter how long that might take.

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Do you ever feel like this ? what have you done to re-motivate yourself to meet your goals ? leave me  a comment below I love hearing from you.

Angela xx

 

How To Cut Your Laundry Costs In 5 Easy Steps

As Spring approaches my mind always turns to thinking about what more I can do to save money and cut my energy bills, I like to use a lot less energy during Spring and Summer so I can use a little more during the Winter months.

If you have a family then you will know that one of your highest energy costs comes from washing and drying your clothes, towels and bedding, even more so if you have babies and toddlers who require several outfit changes a day.

Here’s my guide to cutting those costs in five easy steps.

how-to-cut-your-laundry-costs

Is It Dirty?

Before you toss those clothes in the laundry basket as yourself if they could be re-worn, do the sniff test if you must, not only will this cut your wash loads in half it will also prolong the life of your clothes as over washing can cause damage to the fibres and fade colours quicker.

Fill It Up & Turn It Down

This is such an obvious one but only wash when you have a full load, if you need to wash something urgently and only have a small load then make use of the speed wash cycle on your washing machines, time to get your manuals out and learn what those numbers and symbols mean.switch-1033640_1280

Also turn the temperature dial down, unless you are washing  heavily soiled load then 30 degrees will still get your clothes clean, I’ve even seen some powders and detergents that work at 20 degrees, this really does help to save you money on your energy bills.

Don’t Be Brand Loyal

Shop around for the best priced detergent and softener (unless you have allergies or skin problems) , or even better make your own detergent, there are loads of YouTube videos showing you how to do this.

I have never been brand loyal when it comes to detergent, I always go for the special offers and my current favourite is a store’s own brand which cleans fantastically, smalls amazing and is super cheap, sometimes all you are paying extra for is a brand name.

Watch Your Doses

Read the dose that the manufacturer recommends then half it, you do not need half as much detergent as you think you do, your clothes will be just as clean and your product will last twice as long so it’s a win win situation.

Think About How You Dry

Of course the most obvious solution to cutting laundry costs is to line dry, I’m a huge fan of this method but living in rainy England means that sometimes using my tumble dryer is unavoidable so I try to use it sparingly and more effectively.

Make sure you always remove the lint from the lint trap, leaving it to build up reduces the warm air flow around the clothes which increases the drying time and we all know that tumble dryers devour electricity.

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Also make sure you shake out your clothes (especially socks) before you put them in the dryer, there’s nothing worse than finding a wet rolled up sleeve in a pile of dry clean washing.

 

How We Are Celebrating Valentines 2016 On A Budget

I know that celebrating Valentines day isn’t for everyone but I love little occasions like these throughout the year, they keep life interesting and fun and you don’t need to break the bank to celebrate either.

I love to include the little ones in the celebration, it’s a great opportunity to have conversations about love and relationships, we usually do a craft activity and bake something valentines related as well.

Here’s what we have planned for Valentines day 2016.

The Little Ones

I like to buy the little ones a Valentines gift so I gave myself a budget of £5 each, I came in under budget by picking up these lovely things from Home Bargains.

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These gorgeous cuddly monkeys have velcro feet and hands so the little ones will be able to wear them or hang them in their bedrooms, they are a really good size and a bargain at £2.99 each.

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In our house a celebration isn’t complete without a little chocolate, these cute little lady bugs and hearts were 99p each.

Valentines Meal

We were thinking of using £10 from our budget to treat ourselves to one of the ‘dine in’ special offers that the supermarkets usually offer this time of year, but we have some delicious steaks in the freezer from our bulk meat order, FrugalMrW will make some homemade chips, fried mushrooms and vine tomatoes to go with it and we will treat ourselves to a decadent dessert as part of our shopping budget.

Entertainment

We will spend Valentines day as a family, playing games, decorating love hearts with glitter and sequins and snuggling up on the sofa watching Disney movies, when the little ones go to bed FrugalMrW and I will choose a slushy romantic comedy to watch on Netflix.

Gifts

This year FrugalMrW and I have agreed on a £5 budget to buy each other something, I’ve asked him to spend mine on flowers which he will buy early in the week to avoid the inflated prices and I will buy him chocolate which he loves just a smidgen less than he loves me.

I also picked up this adorable frame for 99p from Home Bargains, I have some free credit in my SnapFish account so I will order a photo of us and display it on our bedside cabinet.

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I will always think that spending time with someone and not money on them is what truly counts in life but it is nice to treat each other a little as well.

What are your plans for valentines day ? will you be sticking to a budget ? leave me a comment below I love to hear from you.

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Angela xx

Here are some posts I’ve written about Valentines day in previous years:

Low budget, No Babysitter Ideas For Valentines Day

Toddler Makes – Easy Valentine Chocolate Treats

Valentines Day Dedication For My Husband